Cheap Wagon: 65 Rambler Classic Cross Country

Brian BirknerBy Brian Birkner

Stored away for 15 years or longer, this Rambler Classic Cross Country wagon is close to being a driver. Solid, with a touched up original appearance, this wagon has a great look, and packs a factory V8. In need of some time, patience, and elbow grease, this wagon could be revived to a driver one way or another.  With loads of storage and cool looks, this wagon is offered for $2,800. Take a look at it here on craigslist out of Polo, Illinois.

The trouble with this poor wagon stems from its long term storage, and the health of the engine. The seller had the heads “redone” where I would assume he suspected valve seats or damaged valves to cause a compression issue. It would seem he now suspects the rings to be “stuck.” If the seller hasn’t already tried, perhaps the rings could be “shocked” into expanding outward once again. If not, you would be looking at either a rebuild or, if you’re up to it, a swap. It seems such a shame that the 287 V8 is low on compression, as the engine bay is very clean, with no rust in sight. Perhaps with some luck, and some tinkering, this engine could be useful.

Not exactly a cream puff inside, but this wagon has a very reasonable interior appearance. A new carpet would really spruce up the looks, but otherwise the dash, door panels, and seats are very acceptable. Taking the initiative to perform a solid cleaning and detailing would do wonders for this Rambler.

Wearing what looks to be mostly original paint, there are a few areas where this wagon has been touched up with clay colored primer. Appearing very straight with no major or excessive damage, this wagon has a great appeal and would look fantastic on the road again. The seller has offered an under body shot of this Rambler, where it would seem only surface rust is present. The only apparent rot in this wagon is in the lower rear quarters. All of the trim appears to be present and accounted for other than a missing “7” off of the passenger front fender. The Cragar wheels have a fine look on this wagon, and the seller has sweetened the deal by installing two new front tires, along with including the original wheels and tires. Would you take a chance on this affordable station wagon?

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Comments

  1. Mike H. Mike H Member

    Mom drove a 1965 770 wagon in brown when I was a kid and this one brings back some memories. If I were to do it I’d probably remove the 287 and go with a 327 OR move up to a 343 or a 390.

    Sure, there are probably more 304/360/401’s to be found, but if I had it that’s where I’d go.




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  2. D

    Can you say Sleeper? In a heartbeat, a bit different.




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    • whmracer99

      Had the same thought. A small engine upgrade to a 340 or maybe go large with a 5.7L hemi w/overdrive transmission would make this a fun driver while you’re getting the cosmetics straightened out. Love the looks.




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  3. jw454

    It could be just a trick of the photography but, it looks like it has the deep dish reversed wheels on the front and the standard offset wheels on the rear. Seems like it should be the other way around IMHO.




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  4. SAM61

    Nice honest wagon at a fair price with lots of potential. If I squint I see a 65 Malibu wagon if Chevy had made one.




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    • jw454

      They did,… 1965 Chevy Malibu




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  5. Graywolf

    Got the look of a ’66 chevy in the rear. This would really be an excellent father/son project! A 390 would be sweet. This needs to cruise the So Cal coast with some boards hanging in the back! Some Dave Kendig flush mount door handles would be awesome!




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  6. Will
  7. steve

    I totally dig this car, I dont know much about AMC. This is a great looking wagon, I LOVE it.




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  8. That AMC guy

    A few things to note under the hood… Dual-circuit master cylinder, Motorola alternator with transistorized regulator, Eaton power steering pump (feeds GM-Saginaw steering gear), and AMC’s trademark vacuum windshield wipers. Installing a one-wire GM alternator is a popular upgrade for the old Motorola alternator though some modification is needed for fitment.

    These cars have torque-tube drive so making major drivetrain changes is a big project. (Specifically anything that involves putting in a different trans means fabbing up some kind of open-driveline rear suspension.) Front suspension has trunnions rather than ball joints. A quick check on trunnion condition is to see that the coil springs are straight. If they are bowed, the trunnions are worn.

    If this car has spent a lot of its life outside it is likely that it has major rust in the cowl area on the passenger side, behind the glovebox. A design defect lets water pool in that area. (This is something to be aware of on all 1963-1966 Classic and Ambassador as well as 1964-1969 American/Rambler.)




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  9. PatrickM

    Terrific Dad/Son project! AMC had quality control/design problems all their life. That’s the reason for the water pooling. Among other issues. Low prices = low quality, etc. Easy to figure out. But, mostly AMC had a very practical car. Of course, back then, gasoline was less than $.30 per gallon. Still, with a few more modern upgrades this could very well be a street worthy vehicle…and I would replace the floor pans… just to be on the safe side.




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